Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CANOEING ON THE WETLANDS OF THE FRENCH BROAD RIVER

click on photos to enlarge


I took the little movie clips below so you could hear the sounds of an osprey and the croaking of cormorants in their rookery.  Those pig like grunts are cormorants that are sitting on their nests.
I had worked the canoe almost directly beneath the cormorant's rookery trees.  They are a noisy lot.  I could not, however, even begin to creep up on the osprey.  He saw me when I was back behind a line of bushes and trees, paddling as stealthy as possible to get near the cormorants.  The osprey didn't like me being in the area and he voiced his opinion.  The cormorants had no clue I was beneath them.
I should have mowed the lawn that came with this property I never wanted but, it also was a good day to take the canoe up to the wet lands beside the French Broad River.  Lets see, mow the lawn or canoe on the wet lands.  I hate tough decisions.
An hour later I was paddling down the French Broad heading for the quiet, shaded foliage of the wet lands.



There was practically no current flow on the French Broad.   This was perfect!  I followed the edge of the wet land for about half a mile and couldn't wait any longer.  I turned the boat onto a narrow waterway that lead directly into the heart of the greenery.  

The water path I was on began to narrow as I entered the marsh like environment.  This is great!  



Suddenly I heard the sound of fast flowing water, a stream.  Then all of a sudden the water was churning by the little webbed feet of what seemed like 50 baby ducks.  I must have startled them.  They were practically running on top the water.  My camera was in the Pelican case protected from the elements.  I wasn't ready.  By the time I got the big camera out of the case, the babies were gobbled up by the thick green foliage.  Mom was not far behind.  She moved slowly in front of me remaining very close to the tall grass that lined the edges of the waterway.



My paddling consisted primarily of dodging endless logs and bushes.  There was always room on the water to get around the many obstacles.  This was good practice to hone my paddling skills.  I noticed a skink run up the trunk of a tree.  I think it was a skink.   It moved like lightning. He would be fare game for the long lens.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for them.  Lizards, salamanders and the many other amphibious creatures lead a very dangerous life back here with all the wading birds in the area.



I could hear the cormorants griping in their rookery.  I wasn't aware I was that close to them.  I had been having the time of my life dodging about here and there under this make believe Amazon world and wasn't paying attention to where I was.  I didn't care where I was.  I didn't even care if I got lost.  I didn't care about anything today.  And maybe I won't care about anything tomorrow.  I love my life style.  Ha - its a great one.

A woodpecker was really disturbing the quietness of the place with his continuous rat, tat, tating.  I needed to photograph a critter and decided to hunt him down.  He wasn't far.  I paddled toward an old snag just ahead of me.  He sounded close.

He was a red bellied woodpecker.  Red bellies, yellow bellies, downy and ladderback's are difficult to differentiate with for a lot of people.  The red bellied woodpecker has a red crest from the base of his beak to the back of his neck with gray cheeks.  He was hammering away on the soft wood of the rotten tree.  This little guy was hard to photograph.  The canoe has such good glide that the smallest movement with the paddle caused the boat to over react.  I had the paddle in one hand and the camera in the other.  The woodpecker would move around the tree out of sight and then pop back around to show me his profile.  I shot the pictures fast.  


One never knows what he'll see back in here.  That statement holds true no matter where one goes in the wilds.  This is a particularly beautiful place, here in the Amazon jungle.
I was getting very close to the cormorants.  They sound like a bunch of hogs.
I popped out of the confined, restricted waterways onto a wider water trail to get my bearings.
I knew exactly where I was and dodged back into the magic, dark spaces.
I would be floating up to and under the rookery itself.  This is outrageous!  I can't imagine being that close to these wild birds.
I could see the cormorants through openings in the green canopy above me.

The holes in the ceiling would appear and disappear just as quickly.  I had to point and shoot quickly.  I was on a course that would put the canoe directly under the biggest trees in the rookery.



The river is in front of them.  This wet land is to their rear.  I doubt they have had anyone or thing approach them from this direction.  I would be directly under them in a few minutes.




Well, I feel pretty good about this.  I wonder if anyone else ever paddled under a rookery unnoticed.  
I moved to the edge of the rookery to get some recordings of their voices.  It was here that the osprey started yelling at me.  Oh well.
I just got a note on my computer screen saying I've used up all my allotted download allowance for my service plan.  So I guess I can't post anymore pictures unless I buy a token for $7.50 that will magically restore my ability to compute on my computer.  Don't ever buy satellite service unless absolutely necessary.  Its the sorriest service on the planet.  I'm through here anyway.  


I had a great day.  I probably won't be posting new material for awhile as I'm taking a motorcycle trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway starting on the tenth.  I'll be busy with things like laundry, mowing grass, motorcycle preparation, mowing grass, digging out maps and mowing grass.  This little paddle around the wet lands will probably be the last I'll be up there for awhile.  I owe myself and Shade a camp out on Calderwood Lake, and by George, I'm doing it when I get back.  See ya...